Having a good headline, a good article and even a good-looking site isn't always enough to maintain an audience. To keep people coming back to your blog day after day you have to go through the extra effort to keep your visitors interested in your content.
Think of your blog as a TV show. How many shows start out strong but can't maintain the interest as time passes? I remember years ago watching the show Alias. It quickly became one of my favorite shows that I looked forward to watching each week. Then somewhere around mid second season it jumped the shark. (The post-Superbowl episode when SD-6 was brought down and the sexual tension between the two main characters... oh, never mind. Yes, I'm still holding a grudge!) Alias just as quickly became one of the many shows that I threw away.
While you don't need to have sexual tension in your blog content (or an evil mastermind, for that matter) to keep people interested, you do need to have an element of anticipation. Your readers should want to come back and read what you have to say next. But unlike a TV show, the anticipation of each "episode" of your blog needs to provide a release, leaving the reader completely fulfilled.
You need to open your blog with something that draws the reader in. When writing with search engines in mind this can often be a bit tricky. Stories often make the most compelling openings but they often lack the keywords that your audience needs in order to accept the post as valuable. If the story is short, it will grab the reader's attention and quickly lead them into the "lesson" of the content.
You don't have to have keywords in the opening paragraph for the search engines, but it can be an important part of gaining and maintaining long-term rankings. If you can integrate the keywords into the opening story then you've got the best of both worlds.
Story isn't the only way to create a compelling opening. Sometimes getting right to the meat works best. Telling the reader the conclusion before you even tell them how you got there can get them invested into leaning how you came to that conclusion.
I suggest you pick up a few books or read some other blogs posts that address this topic specifically. You can write a compelling opening any number of ways, you just need to find what works best for you, your audience, and for each particular blog post.
Appeal to Needs
Once you have the reader interested in whatever you have to say, you need to keep them moving through the content, consistently delivering information that keeps them intrigued. Unless your blog is for entertainment purposes, readers want to feel as if they have learned something. Heck, even entertainment blogs educate their readers in some way or another. But each reader comes to your site with a basic desire. It's your job to meet that desire.
With business blogs there are three things you need to do. 1) Expose the need, 2) State the solution and 3) Provide the benefits.
Expose the need: What is it you want your readers to walk away knowing after having read your post? Make sure you expose the need in language they understand using concepts and illustrations that are familiar to them.
State the solution: Next, provide a solution to that need. The solution must be clearly stated and accurately explained. What must the reader to to achieve X results? What steps must they take? What products must they buy? What services must they engage in? These are all solution oriented questions that can be answered for your readers.
Provide the benefits: Finally, the benefits of each solution bust be clearly outlined. There is no sense in showing someone what they need, and how to get it if they are not fully aware of the benefits of doing so. The benefit is the final selling point that tells the reader that they truly do need what you are offering and that you have the right solution for them.
Just as I did two paragraphs above, ask your readers questions. Questions get them thinking about answers and then allows you to insert your knowledge and expertise in providing an answer. An answer for an unasked question is often far less potent as an answer to a question that the reader is already contemplating... even if it's a question you set them up with.
Not every question needs an answer. Some questions are designed to get the reader to move beyond what you can tell them and to think in terms of their own situation. Ultimately, if you can help your readers think for themselves this makes what you have to say even more valuable.
Finally, you want to make sure that each blog post serves its ultimate purpose and adequately informs your readers. They must walk away feeling as if their time reading your blog post was well spent. Failure to inform leaves your readers wanting. And unlike a TV show, and with the exception of the occasional multi-part series, leaving readers wanting does not bring them back for the next episode.
Keeping your readers interested in your content really boils down to creating good content that your readers find, well, interesting. If you keep your readers interested they'll keep coming for more.
Other posts in the "Go Blog Yourself" series
* Introduction: Writing Your Blog Post with Pen in Hand and SEO in Mind
* Step 1: Know Who's Looking
* Step 2: Know What They Want to See
* Step 3: Have a Good Pick-Up Line
* Step 4: Reveal the Goods
* Step 5: Be Easy On The Eyes
* Step 6: Keep Them Interested
* Step 7: Give Them More Than They Came For
* Step 8: Do It Right and Do It Again
Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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